Book Reviews

The Good Luck of Right Now by Matthew Quick

18054175[1]“Call it fate. Call it synchronicity. Call it an act of God. Call it . . . The Good Luck of Right Now. From the New York Times bestselling author of The Silver Linings Playbook comes an entertaining and inspiring tale that will leave you pondering the rhythms of the universe and marveling at the power of kindness and love.

For thirty-eight years, Bartholomew Neil has lived with his mother. When she gets sick and dies, he has no idea how to be on his own. His redheaded grief counselor, Wendy, says he needs to find his flock and leave the nest. But how does a man whose whole life has been grounded in his mom, Saturday mass, and the library learn how to fly?

Bartholomew thinks he’s found a clue when he discovers a “Free Tibet” letter from Richard Gere hidden in his mother’s underwear drawer. In her final days, mom called him Richard—there must be a cosmic connection. Believing that the actor is meant to help him, Bartholomew awkwardly starts his new life, writing Richard Gere a series of highly intimate letters. Jung and the Dalai Lama, philosophy and faith, alien abduction and cat telepathy, the Catholic Church and the mystery of women are all explored in his soul-baring epistles. But mostly the letters reveal one man’s heartbreakingly earnest attempt to assemble a family of his own.

A struggling priest, a “Girlbrarian,” her feline-loving, foul-mouthed brother, and the spirit of Richard Gere join the quest to help Bartholomew. In a rented Ford Focus, they travel to Canada to see the cat Parliament and find his biological father . . . and discover so much more.” ~ Goodreads

Released today, February 11, 2014

How does he do it? How does Matthew Quick bring the strangest and unlikeliest group of people together and write such an original and heartfelt story? This weird, quirky, unbalanced group of people are one of the most insightful lot I have had the pleasure of meeting in fiction. Insightful for a bunch of “emotionally disturbed” and “developmentally stunted” strangers who happen upon each other through weird twists of fate.

Quick has the main character, Bartholomew, write letters throughout the book to Richard Gere discussing all aspects of his life and the journey he is on after his mother dies. Each chapter is written as a letter and even if they are never mailed (you never really find out) they are a form of therapy for Bartholomew as he ponders the bigger questions in life.

“I don’t talk very much to strangers  and much prefer writing letters, in which there is room to record everything, unlike real-life conversations where you have to fight and fight to fit in your words and almost always lose.”

I’d have to agree with Bartholomew there.

Carl Jung’s theory of synchronicity (Unus mundus), Atheism vs. God, the profound teachings of The Dalai Lama, koans and the meaning of existence were all spattered throughout the story without swaying the reader one way or another but to give more insight to the balance of life. Bartholomew’s mother believed in “The Good Luck of Right Now” where good things happen at the same time as bad things to keep balance in the world. So when you are experiencing really positive moments in your life to remember that at the same time someone else is suffering. And the opposite. When you are down on your luck consider that it’s someone else’s turn to shine:

“That in order for someone to win, someone else has to lose; and in order for someone to be rich, many others must stay poor; and in order for someone to be considered smart, many more people must be considered average or below average intelligence; and in order for someone to be considered extremely beautiful, there must be a plethora of regular-looking people and extremely ugly people, as well; you can’t have the good without the bad, fast without slow, hot without cold, up without down, light without dark, round without flat, life without death-and so you can’t have lucky without unlucky either.”

Quick is so clever and thoughtful with his writing. I have noticed this in all of the books he has written that had me engrossed from page one. Silver Linings Playbook and Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock also tackle the subject of mental illness and delve into the lives of quirky characters who resonate off of the page. They bring a sense of normal while their behaviors dictate otherwise. They have a brilliance that us “normal folk” would immediately label “weird” or “unstable”. They might have those tendencies as well but their insight strikes a chord.

As the strangers become familiar with one another and seek out the reasons for why things happen and the meaning of life, they embark on an adventure to simply be friends. Support one another. A piecemeal family. One of the lines I loved and will forever take away from this novel is “a friend is a present you give yourself”. Beautifully said. (I just might be using that line for Valentine’s Day cards!) And while I was wondering what this story meant in the grand scheme of things, Quick once again brilliantly parallels his story with what a koan is:

“In the West, people often mistakenly think of koans as riddles, tests of one’s intellect-something to solve. But a truer interpretation would be that koans are brief stories to meditate on-they have no answer. We cannot “solve” or “understand” these koans any more than we can solve or understand a shooting star or a lion’s roar or the smell of fresh dew on roses or the feeling of warm sand between our toes. We can only ponder all of these things deeply, and revel in the mystery. It is a mistake to think there is a correct answer or solution, but it is good to ponder all the same.”

“So you’re saying that this story-what we are involved in right now-is a koan, something to meditate on, but it has no meaning?”

“It has great meaning! It just has no answer.”

Such is life.

*A VERY BIG thank you to HarperCollins and Edelweiss for the advance reader’s uncorrected e-proof. I kindly begged pleaded requested this new release and was jumping for joy like a child on Christmas morning when I got the “OK”. I know there were limited copies and I appreciate the trust of “your baby” in my hands. I was not compensated for this post nor was I required to post a review. I’m just ecstatic that I enjoyed it so much! The quotes used in this post were checked against the final published edition. Which means I was up early today to visit my local bookstore to revel in the finished copy and lovely cover. 🙂

To learn more about Matthew Quick, his novels and events please visit his site here.

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